Climate Change: Why the Threat Produces Apathy, Not Action

Many people aren’t responding to mounting evidence of the huge impacts of climate change. Neuroscience helps explain why – and the key role that businesses can play in responding rationally.

Voter behavior has long held mysteries for both politicians and psychologists. Why do poor and working-class voters across the US South, for instance, still line up to support conservative candidates whose policies favor the rich, weaken the social-safety net and limit access to affordable health care?

Some in the field of moral psychology have argued that national politics is “more like religion than it is like shopping”. Entrenched notions of cultural identity, in other words, can often be more motivating than short-term policy promises.

But how to explain the paralyzing resistance to climate change action, where the risks approach existential peaks unseen in historical human experience?

Despite spending a record amount of money to sway the mid-term US elections, environmental groups and high-profile donors failed to avert a sweeping Republican victory last week, in which candidates opposing the regulation of greenhouse gases and championing the expansion of tar sands pipelines won big.

It’s not as though the facts aren’t there: the global scientific community has warned us for years about the present and future impacts of climate change linked to fossil fuel use. Earlier this month, for example, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report came out, warning of “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” if carbon emissions are not halted fast.

“Science has spoken,” UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said during the report’s release. “Time is not on our side.”

With so much at stake, why do people fail to act? What’s happening inside their brains?

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Photo Credit: J E Theriot on


Climate Reality
Climate Reality38 seconds ago
Scott Pruitt could be in hot water.
Climate Reality
Climate Reality2 hours ago
Great news! US corporate giants are sticking with environmental goals – in spite of the Trump Administration’s climate change skepticism. #ClimateHope
Climate Reality
Climate Reality5 hours ago
It’s time to take #ClimateAction.
Climate Reality
Climate Reality6 hours ago
Wildfire season in the American West is now two and a half months longer than it was over 40 years ago. #ClimateFacts (via Years of Living Dangerously)
Climate Reality
Climate Reality
Climate Reality8 hours ago
Should your country get hydrogen trains? (via World Economic Forum)
Climate Reality
Climate Reality
Climate Reality18 hours ago
Stockholm is leading the way in imaginative approaches to #CleanEnergy.(via World Economic Forum)
Climate Reality

Climate Change Discussion

Is climate change real? Or is it a communist plot to enslave humanity? Is denial of climate change a plot by the oil companies to protect their profits? How can we tell who is lying? Is doomsday upon us? How bad is it? Is it the end for all life on Earth? And, if so, should we lie down or something? This group endeavors to discover the answers to these questions and more. It is NOT the purpose of this group to force an answer on participants. We are blind men groping an elephant. Tell us what your part of the elephant feels like so that the rest of us can correct our understanding. This group has few rules and will be moderated with a light hand. 1) Don't violate the Facebook Terms of Service. We don't want the group shut down. 2) Spam will be deleted. Off-topic posts from regulars are permitted within reason for social purposes, but off-topic posts from newcomers will be assumed to be spam and removed. All posts will be subjected to post approval. 3) This is an open group. If you make an ass of yourself, the whole world will see it. The moderators will not protect you from yourself. 4) If you don't want to see another person's posts, use the block feature. The moderators will be happy to help you with this. You may censor what you see. You may not censor what others see. 5) Don't feed trolls. The best way to draw attention to an idiot's rant is to respond to him. The best way to silence him is to ignore him. The post will rapidly scroll out of view and others won't see it. Every time you reply, you bump the post up where all will see it, giving it legitimacy. 6) Reporting others is a bannable offense. Only report for fly-by-night spam (ie. from people who just joined the group to post one item and then vanish). Bumping 20161006
Keith Distel
Keith Distel shared wattsupwiththat's post to the group: Climate Change Discussion.9 hours ago
Perspective on the polar bear story. As the skeptics said...
Ed Costello
Ed Costello shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.30 ago
Tim LeClair
Tim LeClair1 hour ago
Here is a science question that kinda matters. At what wavelength or frequency does a blackbody at 290 Kelvin provide peak energy measured in watts / meter squared (W/m2)? Sounds easy!
Ram Dev
Ram Dev shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.20 hours ago
Its time to prepare for a spell of global cooling in the tropical zones. Dump this total farce called Global Warming 😠 Otherwise millions are really gonna die in Europe UK and with the coming power shortages, this holocaust two looks inevitable. Green Nazi's are the cause.
Ram Dev
Snow falls across UK to close roads and ground flights
Heavy snow will continue is set to cause widespread disruption across large parts of the UK today with forecasters warning some communities could be cut off as temperatures plummet.
Manuel Edgardo Lugo Recart
Manuel Edgardo Lugo Recart shared's post to the group: Climate Change Discussion.18 hours ago
--Most people don’t reject science wholesale because they actually have a problem with the science. The same equations of radiative transfer and non-linear fluid dynamics that explain how our stoves work or how airplanes fly provide the basis of our climate models, too. Rather, people selectively reject a specific set of scientific findings: those they perceive to be a threat to their ideology or worldview, and hence to their identity.--
Suzi Rhae
Suzi Rhae shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.5 days ago
Oh my... not again?!! Alarmist scientists have been caught red-handed tampering with raw data in order to exaggerate sea level rise.

Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice6 days ago
Recent news about climate mitigation finance includes financing for projects in solar, wind, and geothermal energy in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, India and Afghanistan.

Other notable developments include initiatives to improve enabling conditions for renewable energy deployment through the launch of a global tool for mapping wind power potential and a US$50 million call for developing country funding applications from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice2 weeks ago
With the COP 23 decision, both the technical (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, SBSTA) and implementation (Subsidiary Body for Implementation, SBI) bodies within the climate change negotiation framework are required to address key issues in a joint process linking climate change and agriculture.

Issues likely to make the list of negotiations range from soil health and carbon, adaptation, adaptation co-benefits (mitigation), to improved nutrition, food security, water, and livestock management.

If this process leads to a policy framework by 2020, there will be increased prioritization of resources towards the production and availability of knowledge, technical, methodological, and financial resources needed for effective action relating to agriculture and climate change.
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice2 weeks ago
New climate change job vacancies at International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) UN Environment GGGI and more
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice shared IISD Reporting Services's post.2 weeks ago
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice shared IISD Reporting Services's post.2 weeks ago

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